By Deb Silverthorn
The tastes from home are the best memories for many and no matter how far away you are, recreating those flavors brings the holidays closer to home. For Dallas’ Ethan Fisher, a UT Dallas senior, committed to an internship in Israel this semester, it was mom’s brisket – cooked albeit in his apartment’s toaster oven —that was going to make his Passover Seder, sizzle.
“Our Seder was awesome. We could not invite any of the other people from our program because the government enforced a mandatory lockdown, but we came together to celebrate, some participating in their first ever Seder,” said Ethan. “After searching Osher Ad, one of Tel Aviv’s largest stores, I was able to compile all of the ingredients for the brisket I knew and loved from home. I was really happy to find everything, plus a couple of bottles of wine.”
Not to be expected, was to create a Seder plate without an egg. It took a search, more intense than that for the afikomen, but one egg was secured in time.
“Everyone loved the brisket which made me feel really proud because it came out just like I remember it tasting,” said Ethan, working toward a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, from his apartment in Tel Aviv. “I was actually the youngest person so I had to sing the four questions and search for the afikomen.”
Ethan, the son of Laurel and Mark, is a master at challah French toast and has spent years baking hamantaschen alongside his mother; this Purim they did so from across the miles. When it was time to plan for Passover dinner, he knew he’d have to recreate mom’s specialty – the only catch, his only oven was a toaster oven.
Ethan and his six flatmates, unknown to him just three months ago, share a five-bedroom space. They rotate working out of their living room, kitchen or balcony.
When the news of COVID-19 became more public in early March, Ethan considered returning to Dallas but ultimately decided to stay. Whatever he’d be doing in Dallas, he could do in Israel, but the experience there, including all he is learning from his experience wasn’t something he could replicate.
Ethan’s internship is a Destination Israel opportunity funded through Masa Israel Journey, a public-service organization founded by the Prime Minister’s Office of the Government of Israel, together with The Jewish Agency for Israel. Originally set to both work and travel, Ethan was only able to visit Gush Etzion and Haifa before shelter-in-place requirements were set.
YuGan Engineering, the firm that Ethan where Ethan interns, is providing quality assurance for the NTA Tel Aviv Light Rail Red Line, an 11 billion shekel (more than $3 billion, U.S.) underground train running from Bat Yam to Petah Tikvah.
Before working from his flat, Ethan worked in an office right outside the sites, moving from one station to another, performing site tours and managing checklists.
“I have learned so much about how intricate each step of construction is, how interconnected each phase is with each depending on one another,” said Ethan. The construction sites remain open with reduced crews.
Appreciating the time he has left in Israel, Ethan is working on resumes and applications for internships to pursue once he returns to Dallas. He hopes his experience abroad will set him in line for his dream opportunity with Lockheed Martin.
Holiday from home, business, traffic and commerce slowed in the streets but for Ethan, and his six flatmates, the moment is remaining busy with work and each other, building experiences, relationships and memories.
By Deb Silverthorn